Rapid housing with support is key to addressing the complex and serious needs of Australia’s most vulnerable rough sleepers, says new study.
A new research study report on a campaign to house rough sleepers shows how long-term homelessness is associated with high levels of health problems, trauma and disability. 50 Lives 50 Homes is a project aimed at rapidly housing and supporting Perth’s most vulnerable rough sleepers. Within its first year, the project has housed 42 individuals and 8 families, an event that was celebrated with a breakfast event at WA Parliament House, and hosted by the Hon. Simone McGurk MLA, Minister for Community Services this morning.
The 50 Lives 50 Homes First Evaluation Report has been produced by the Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia (CSI UWA). Research study lead CSI UWA’s Dr Lisa Wood said: “When we look at the client demographics, on average people had been homeless for more than 5 years, and one man who has now been housed, had been living on the street for 20 years. Their needs are complex and serious, and homeless people can often fall through the cracks in terms of preventive healthcare, mental health treatment and disability support”.
The 50 Lives project is based on a ‘housing first’ response to homelessness that has strong international evidence, but homelessness in Australia presents some unique challenges.
“Our data shows that 38% of the 50 Lives participants are Aboriginal people, and some of these people have deep-rooted trauma as part of the ‘stolen generation’” notes co-researcher from the CSI UWA Shannen Vallesi.
The lack of available affordable housing is a systemic challenge that impacts on how quickly people can be housed. Shannen Vallesi also said that “suitability of housing is also a barrier to rapid housing; it is harder to find houses that can accommodate a family with children, and there are 50 Lives participants with physical disabilities, so places with stairs or no access to public transport is problematic”.
Professor Paul Flatau, Director of the CSI UWA said that the collective impact model was central to the project, with 27 partner organisations involved, across homelessness, housing, and health and community sectors. “What research evidence suggests is that collaboration across different parts of the service system and from government agencies together with intensive case management is crucial to achieving permanent benefits for those chronically homeless”. The research study undertaken by the CSI UWA is mapping the effectiveness of the collaboration in achieving client and community outcomes over and above what an individual organisation could do on its own.
Debra Zanella CEO of Ruah Community Services said that the importance of collaboration in the community to support the 50 Lives cohort could not be overstated. “By working together, we can ensure everyone has a safe place to call home. The success of the 50 Lives 50 Homes campaign is testament to careful planning, skillful execution, extraordinary effort, and most importantly the collaborative work of all organisations involved. Our shared commitment is to end homelessness in Perth by providing permanent housing and wrap around support to build solid foundations for a better future.”
50 Lives aims are threefold:
The second research study report will be released in 2018, and will use linked hospital data to look at changes in health service use once people are housed.
Nicola Hannigan, National Communications Manager, Centre for Social Impact
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Dr Lisa Wood, CSI UWA lead researcher
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Professor Paul Flatau, Director CSI UWA
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